Freelancer vs. small agency vs. big IT partner: Who to pick as a contractor for your software project?

date: 6 October 2020
reading time: 6 min

Picking the right contractor depends mainly on the specific nature of your software project: on the scope, duration, business requirements and your expected outcomes. There’s no one solution to rule them all.

Every project is different, and the selection process requires careful analysis. However, it is certainly well worth your time and effort to select carefully, especially since finding the most optimal fit will save you a lot of energy and money later on.

This is why we’ve prepared a short guide for you on how to choose the right contractor, depending on the complexity of your project.


Small project

A small project can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks; it isn’t particularly resource-consuming and can be accomplished with the help of just one or a couple of specialists.


Possible scenarios:

You run a large or medium-sized company and you could manage the project in-house, but your team is tied-up with other tasks. So, it would be better for you to find some external help, just to get the job done, without disrupting other development processes.

Another possible scenario: you are just about to start, or have already been running a small business for a while now, and you don’t really have a huge project in mind. All you need is a simple web page or a basic app to start with, to help streamline your workflow, but you don’t even have any IT specialists on your team.


Examples of small projects: 

  • wordpress blog or a simple web page with a ready-to-use theme
  • new website layout to improve readability
  • additional feature for existing software


The most optimal contractors:

  • freelancer
  • small agency


Why?

Short-term and simple projects don’t require huge analyses or an army of experts. An experienced freelancer or a small, yet reliable agency can help you create a valuable outcome, based on your requirements and expectations. Also, since the final product for very simple projects is usually quite obvious and easy-to-use, the post-production support that a larger agency or partner would provide is not necessary here.


Medium-sized project

Medium-sized projects usually take no more than 1-3 months. The number and size of deliverables, as well as the number of variables, are limited and still quite easy to measure.


Possible scenarios:

You either don’t have an in-house team at all, or they are busy with other tasks. You want to hire a company for this project and be able to rely on their experience but you also don’t expect very broad expertise or comprehensive, all-embracing skills. Flexibility and scalability are not priorities for you, since the list of project requirements is set for now.


Examples of medium-sized projects:

  • corporate website with interactive features
  • small e-shop with just a few categories, one type of user account, a couple of payment options and a contact form
  • user interface design for a website or app


The most optimal contractor:

  • small agency


Why?

Even if your idea may not be revolutionary on a global scale, it may have the potential to be a game-changer for your business. That’s why you need the support of a small team of experts in design and coding, and not just an individual freelancer. A bit of solid research is usually enough for something like this, coupled with some experience running similar types of projects successfully. Also, because you’re not looking for a long term partner – just a few guidelines and some limited support afterwards, a small agency seems to fit perfectly here.


Complex project

Large-scale and complex projects require a lot of effort from the very beginning, from project preparation down to the post-production phase. A wide variety of expertise and skills is a must. Lots of research, analyses, prototyping, and sometimes even proof of concept – all of these things may be absolutely necessary.


Possible scenario:

Your in-house capabilities are decidedly not enough to proceed with your idea. You may lack some of the cutting edge knowledge and skills that your project requires; your team may be busy carrying out other important tasks; and hiring new experts may be too risky at this point, since you need comprehensive end-to-end service and consultancy. You may not even be clear on the technologies that you need to use for this yet. Plus, security issues are one of your biggest concerns for the project.


Examples of complex projects:

  • e-commerce system built from scratch
  • banking application with features that involve machine learning
  • client management system with many customisation options
  • system modernisation


The most optimal contractors:

  • medium-sized IT partner (up to 1000 employees)
  • big IT partner (more than 1000 employees)


Why?

You need a long-term partner – one that is agile, flexible, experienced, reliable and has broad expertise. That’s why you should choose an organisation that can adjust to your business, and offer you everything you need: from market research to UX design, prototyping, and software delivery. Also, your partner will provide you with the-production support that you need: including workshops, training and maintenance services.

Renowned software companies follow certain sets of procedures and mechanisms during the cooperation process and they are capable of taking care of every aspect of your project, including knowledge transfer sessions between their team and your in-house specialists, as well as any security issues that may arise. They are often ISO/IEC 27001-certified (check on this beforehand!), so their standards are very high and you can rest assured that they will take care of any potential vulnerabilities.


Wrap-up

As you can see, there’s no objectively better or worse option when it comes to software development. It all depends on your goals and needs. There’s no point in hiring a huge IT partner if you just want to create a simple corporate page, and it’s definitely impossible to run a large-scale project with just one or two freelancers, even if they are highly skilled.

If you have an idea that you want to turn into reality – we can be of assistance. Check out The Future Processing Way to learn about how we work, and how we can help your business grow. Of course, you can start small and see how your project develops – we can scale up or down with you along the way. But if you find that your plans and ambitions are pretty extensive on their own, then an experienced and reliable partner is a must from the very beginning.

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